Solidarity with Catalonia

Another day, and another day of silence about events in Catalonia from BBC Scotland, the local accounting unit of the UK state broadcaster. You’d almost imagine that no one in Scotland could possibly relate to or be interested in the goings on in a modern European nation which is seeking independence, statehood, and membership of the EU in its own right. Nothing like that has ever happened in Scotland. Oh no. We can have wall to wall fitba, but no news from Catalonia that might be relevant to Scotland’s very own home grown independence campaign.

Catalonia is due to hold an independence referendum on the first of October. It’s only a couple of weeks away, but there has been almost zero interest in the Catalan independence movement from a British nationalist media in Scotland which is desperately trying to forget that there’s an independence movement in Scotland too. Or more precisely, which is desperately hoping that people in Scotland forget that there’s an independence movement in Scotland too. The British nationalist establishment is all to aware of it, terrified of it, and wishing it would go away. For all the false confidence, the braggadocio, the claims that we’ve heard a hundred times before that Scotland has passed peak-nat, the British nationalists know that the next time there’s an independence referendum in Scotland, they’re going to lose it. That’s why they’re so desperate to ensure that one never takes place, and why they’re not keen on reminding Scotland that other stateless nations in Europe are on their own journey to self-determination.

The Spanish version of British nationalists are even more desperate than their red white and blue counterparts to prevent a referendum taking place. The Spanish state paramilitary police, the Guardia Civil – an organisation directly under the control of the Spanish equivalent of the Home Office – have recently raided printers’ offices and newspaper print works in Catalonia seeking to seize freshly printed ballot papers. Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and other members of the Catalan government and pro-independence parties are facing criminal charges for daring to insist that the people of Catalonia have the right to a say on their own future.

On Friday, Madrid unilaterally changed the rules governing the spending of the Catalan government to make it illegal to use Catalan government money to hold the vote and also ordered all police forces, including the Catalan police the Mossos d’Esquadra to take action to prevent the referendum.  If the Catalan police were to be seen to be acting at the behest of Madrid, the result could be inflammatory and lead to civil unrest. On the same day, the Spanish Supreme Court ordered Catalan newspapers not to publish campaign notices for the October 1st referendum. The offices of the Spanish State Prosecutor have called in over 700 pro-independence mayors for questioning amidst warnings that assisting with the preparation of the vote could lead to criminal charges of civil disobedience, misuse of public funds, and abuse of public office.

The Guardia Civil isn’t just any old police force. It’s a paramilitary organisation which was the main organ of state repression during the Franco dictatorship. Memories of dictatorship remain strong in Spain, well within living memory. During the height of Franco’s cruel rule, the public use of the Catalan language was banned, along with Basque and Galician. Catalan and Basque speakers were not even allowed to have their own names on their official ID papers. If you were a Catalan speaker called Pau, your government ID card would identify you as Pablo. Only the Spanish versions of personal names were permitted. In rural communities, the Guardia Civil would knock on your door on a Monday to ask why you hadn’t been to Mass on the Sunday. People in traditionally Catalan or Basque speaking districts were hauled off into years of detention for the “crime” of not speaking Spanish very well.

After the end of the dictatorship in Spain, there was no equivalent of the denazification process in Germany which followed the fall of Hitler’s regime. Spain’s old fascists, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands and the torture and illegal detention of many thousands more, simply went on with life as though nothing had happened. After the death of Franco in 1975, the price that Spain paid for avoiding another civil war and for the restoration of democracy was silence on the crimes of the Francoists.

Another price that was paid was the inclusion of a Francoist slogan España una e indivisible ‘Spain, one and indivisible’, in the new democratic constitution. Including this slogan in the new constitution was one of the prices exacted by Franco’s generals for returning to the barracks and allowing freedom of political expression.  The adoption of this clause led to a widespread boycott in the Basque Country of the referendum in 1981 to adopt the new constitution. The prospect of an independent Basque Country and Catalonia had been one of the sparks that set off the Civil War of 1936 to ’39, and the generals and their allies were determined that the newly democratic Spain was not going to extend full democratic rights to those within the Spanish state who didn’t feel Spanish at all.

The anti-democratic forces of the Spanish right, the fascists, the falangists, and the Francoists, didn’t vanish when Spain returned to democracy. They re-organised. They adopted the veneer of democracy.  Today their main political vehicle is the Partido Popular, the party of Mariano Rajoy which is doing its utmost to prevent Catalonia from holding its referendum, citing the clause in the Constitution that was put there by Franco’s old army pals. The Madrid government which is seeking to block the referendum in Catalonia is the heir to Franco.

Catalonia deserves solidarity from Scotland, and not just from those of us who support Scottish independence. All of us in Scotland, on both sides of our constitutional debate, accept and recognise that the people of Scotland have the democratic right to decide their own future, that it’s for Scotland, and Scotland alone, to decide whether it remains a part of the United Kingdom or it becomes an independent state. It’s a question of democracy. In Spain, we’re now seeing a supposedly democratic European country employ force and threats of force in order to prevent its citizens from exercising what ought to be a basic democratic right, the right to self-determination. The government in Madrid is so afraid of the voice of the people that it seeks to gag them. When you gag the people, democracy is dead.

Sadly it’s not just the British nationalist media in Scotland which has been silent on Catalonia. The Scottish Government hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory in a defence of the right of Catalonia to self-determination. Holyrood, and the Scottish Government, should speak out in support of the right of Catalonia to hold its referendum, and for the right of the people of Catalonia to decide their own future. If Scotland can’t support other nations which seek to determine their own future, we will not be able to expect support from other nations when we seek to determine ours.

Update: Almost as I hit the publish button for this blog article, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs Fiona Hyslop released a statement from the Scottish Government supporting the right of Catalonia to self-determination.  You can read the statement here.

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0 thoughts on “Solidarity with Catalonia

  1. Fiona Hyslop on behalf of the SG has just released a statement in support of Catalonia’s right to self determination.

    Good! SG needs to be far bolder now in putting the independence stake in the ground.

    • I think it’s about right, strong support for the right to self determination is the important thing (for them and us). This includes the right to vote without intimidation and with fair access to information.

      If SG wade in with a partisan statement (there can be no doubt where their sympathies lie) it undermines the power of the statement. The Danish intervention is also more powerful and helpful by not being partisan.

      The rest of us can be as partisan as we like 😏

  2. I’m convinced that Madrid knows a vote will be a huge Yes. I’m also convinced that one of the main reasons this will be so is that Catalunya have their own media.

    I’m also convinced that the BBC & MSM being so against Scottish independence is the main reason 2014 IndyRef fell to a ‘No’ vote. Who in their right mind would vote against their own country’s independence if not for blanket propaganda, lies & a manipulation into thinking Westminster rule (thus, the UK) was the best outcome for you?

  3. Saorsa:

    Freedom, liberty… redemption – (Scottish Gaelic’s word),
    that word represents much more than ~ ‘another word’,
    we’re free to apply that as the philosophy at home/away!
    (Catalonia, you share with your Scottish friends’ ‘parlay’)


  4. Pingback: Solidarity with Catalonia | speymouth

  5. Is it not the case that Spain, if the Scottish government offend/meddles in their affairs could veto Scotland entry to the EU? Arguably a reason to ensure that we, as EU citizens, are an independent nation before the Brexit exit is signed off, and thus we remain in the EU, and so any veto invalid. Then there is the EFTA option that could be negotiated before the Brexit sign off.I’m at ease with either option.For me, the priority is to be rid of Westminster.It is time for the SG to illustrate the dangers we are facing in bright vivid colours.Sophistry of speech won’t cut it with many of the electorate. The time has come to do the our Project Fear bit – comparison of England and Scotland social benefits – what you will lose.

    And then consider, the declared UK aim just announced, is to be the world’s largest arms trader. So if you were one of the unfortunates of a country on the receiving end of the USA/UK diplomatic ventures by force of arms, what would your feelings be towards the UK?
    And it has been announced the Uk is on a red alert for a terrorist attack. Do we in Scotland want that ongoing hassle?Do you harbour any grievance against countries around the world such that you condone bombing and killing their citizens, using weapons made by the ‘world’s largest arms trader”, and thus the consequent “red alerts”?

  6. I just don’t get it.
    Provided Catalonia continues to implement EU laws and remains part of the customs union what difference does it make other than having direct representation within the undemocratic European Commission.
    Perhaps that is too democratic for the Eurocrats who run the EU.
    Democratic reform of the EU has to be more than just sound bites and probably means Germany,in particular,having to give up some of it’s current influence.
    Perhaps that is the root of the problem.

  7. Thank you to Colin for this innovation. Much appreciated. Most appropriate.

    Thank you, also, GD, for another cracker.

    Hope and trust that the good folk of Catalunya do the needful. Fraternal greetings and warm support to them from their fellow travelling Scots by birth or inclination.

    Next, the Basques and Galicians and us Scots? An Ireland re-united asap. Other peoples of the world restored to independent dignity. Full human life in its rich and varied apparel restored without prejudice. Fraternally done with mutual respect.

    An end to predatory big “state” imperialism which has wrought such endless, bloody havoc globally and casuistically justified by fly men and women on the take and make.

    A just, tolerant, and caring world?

  8. The silence from the BBC is, of course, not surprising (although the story is on the website if you don’t mind getting RSI from having to click down four levels or so). What is distinctly odd is the lack of coverage in the so-called ‘quality’ London papers. The Toryglyph has it, but – like with the Broadcorping Castration – it’s buried a few layers down. But the Guardian, the Independent (sic), the Times? Nowt.

    I did a cursory tour of international media before writing my own piece on the subject (, and found that same blank wall: Die Zeit, FAZ and Tageszeitung in Germany? Nichts. De Telegraaf in the Netherlands? Geen woord. Le Monde? Rien. Corriere Della Sera? Niente. The NYT and Washington Post? Zilch. I didn’t bother with the Castilian media for obvious reasons.

    Along with the silence from pols in other allegedly ‘democratic’ states (with the exception of the Danish parliamentarians you mentioned, Paul, and the PM of Estonia; and I agree that Hyslop’s statement could have been a bit stronger), it’s a most curious consignment of a major story to the Memory Hole before it has even reached its dénouement.

    Whichever way you look at it, the residual Falangists who have infested the upper reaches of Castilian politics and judiciary since the death of the old bastard seem to be reverting fully to type, and unless all those of us who live in the colonies of other similar colonialist-assimilationist states make a noise about it, the attempted crushing of Catalan democracy is in danger of proceeding.

    Catalunya Sí!

  9. You can’t close your eyes to Catalonias right to self determination.Th Scottish government must support them.If not we are giving tacit approval to the use of force against a people’s right to look after their own affairs.Foriegn government either in Madrid or London will take real energy and optimism from the Scottish governments silence. If anyone is killed or hurt in the next few months we should hang our heads in shame.The Authouritarian states are alive and well. Look at Brexit and the attitude of ” they are different from us” we must support the Catalans,before they are militarily suppressed. Now is the time and now is the hour. Spain will not let Catalonia leave peacefully if we don’t stand up and support them. Europe is a coat of many colours,we can all live together side by side,but domination from people over another is not acceptable.

  10. Comments below the line of a blog post are the product of a moment’s thought and show an individual often expressing emotion rather than a fully thought out position. The SG ‘s response to events in Catalunya has to stand for the political equivalent of forever and a day. To those who expected a stronger response and are disappointed as a result, you really need to look at yourself and your own motivations first. The SG are getting attacked from every side and though we all find the unionists laughable and petty they still represent a lot of voters. Do we want to give them more ammo by indulging the political romanticism that still resides inside all of us, the idealism that keeps us going? There was a guy on the Wings twitter feed thinking of cancelling his SNP membership because of FH’s response. Political movements have no need of beautiful souls offended by perceived slights to their exquisite sensibilities. They would be much better off playing Chess or Stratego.
    The SG’s response shows a pretty amazing political maturity and hits the right note. It gives nothing to the slavering, baying unionist vampires. This playing of the long game is well done. It deserves a standing ovation rather than a slow handclap.
    Take a bow Fiona.

    • Agreed (see my earlier post). The best thing SG can do for Catalan is to support their right of self determination. The SG have behaved as a mature government.

      Spanish right wingers will pay a heavy price behind the scenes in European circles; unfortunately because Spain was accepted into the EU with it’s compromised constitution it is harder for the EU to act. I think that acceptance of the UN charter (self determination is in article 1 part 2) and European convention on human rights should be minimum requirements for any member of the EU.

      It will be even harder for the UK Govt to adopt Madrid style tactics -the EU owe them no favours now but that won’t stop the UK from trying.

      Individual UK subjects can be as forthright as we wish but please don’t attack SG for behaving maturely.

  11. One thing that should not be forgotten here is that Spain is still an inherently facist country. After all, wasn’t it Franco himself who endorsed King Juan?

  12. I expect to be in Catalunya on the 1st October. I am taking a modest saltire. From my observation there the huge advantage that they have is an excellent media, very inclusive broadcasters, in Castellano as well as Catalan.

    The disadvantage they have is that they are not a kingdom in their own right, so are in a weaker international political position in comparison with Scotland. Many Catalans understand this and have told me that they have difficulty in understanding the Scottish retisence in taking the plunge for independence. If they do succeed this will lead to to more pressure from Galicia and pais Basco, not at all attractive to the PP in Madrid.

    There is also some pressure in the Catalan speaking Balearics, which in the event of a Yes vote in Catalunya will gain momentum. Madrid has a lot to lose if it’s cash cows decamp, I have no doubt that this has the potential to get very nasty indeed. Andalucia and Extremadura have to be supported by cash from somewhere.

    On the brighter side, the former Francoistas and Falangists who have now reached the top of many organisations in Spain are retiring, they are the last tainted batch The new Spain has many highly educated women coming forward and with some exceptions which we have seen on our islands they can be more pragmatic and less likely to solve differences by aggresive behaviours.

    I would say that Fiona Hyslop has got it about right.

  13. It is odd that from 2012 to 2014 the BBC, particularly in North Britain, were all over every pronouncement from Spain in an effort to promote the idea of a Spanish veto to Scotland’s EU membership.
    More recently, Gibraltar has had a lot of news coverage.
    I’m at a loss to explain the BBC’s sudden loss of interest in happenings from that part of the world. It’s a real puzzler.

  14. Well said, Paul.

    All over Europe, the Fascists have not gone away; they’ve rebranded themselves.

    In Scotland it’s open season on gypsies, tattie munchers, Johnny Foriegner, now that Ruth has been allowed to stuff her Nasty Wee Party full of far right anti Scottish Brexiteers and UKippers.

    The Spanish conspiracy of silence and intimidation of which you write so passionately, Paul, is happening here. The SNP, Scottish Independence, the Yes Movement, the 62%, have been silenced.

    I forced myself, and ‘forced’ is the verb, to sit through Andrew Marr’s Westminster Bubble Gum this morning; a one off, just to see how far to the Hard Brexit Ultra-Right British Nationalism this former son of Caledonia has lurched.

    Scotland did not get a mention. Tuition fees, and proposals to reduce them, in England, perhaps introduce a graduate tax, Boris’ Rebellion on Hard Brexit, an agonising interview with Amber Rudd, where the million public service jobs cuts, and the 23,000 English Police cuts were somehow hailed as a positive thing, ‘efficiencies’, and savings’, and all that Blue Tory destroy civic society guff. Marr nodded in mute agreement.
    Marr pointed out to his trio of London Chatterati that although there were a million public service jobs cut, lost, gone, that employment was up, and unemployment down, so who missed the 1,000,000 nurses, policemen, prison officers, nursery nurses, home helps, librarians, tax collectors?

    They are all on zero hours contracts shelf filling in Lidl and Asda, so no loss there.

    Marr declared to Vince Cable that the economy is booming in this True Brit Blue Tory inter Brexit world of his. Cable looked at him as if he were stark staring mad.

    Christ, in the World of Marr, Scotland does not exist.
    He was determined not to mention the SNP at any cost.

    He managed to talk of Vince Cable and the Lib Dems being a poor third with 7% of the vote, yet failed to mention once, the 35 SNP MPs wedged in between his Brexit Buddies and Vince ‘I could be the next PM’ Cable.

    I won’t be tuning in again. Marr has sold his soul to London, and fuck the land of his birth. Scotland is a non-country now down at the BBC.
    Incredibly out of the blue, for no apparent reason, Ruth Davidson got a sly wee mention while Marr was coorying up to Rudd…whit?

    Apparently according to Marr, the Brexit vote has hardened and ‘we’ all just want to get on with it now.
    Don’t bother coming back Up Here, Andrew. You have truly sold your soul to our oppressors. Well done.
    The ‘we’ he refers to are the English and Welsh Leavers?

    Sarah Smith is taking over Sunday Politics from that other Andrew, Neil, the arch right Blue Tory.
    No change in editorial policy there.


    Nothing to see here.

    Not a mention. Nothing.

    Imagine if it were Gibraltar.

    It is to their eternal shame that a gang of Anglo Scots Down There in EngWaland have such contempt for the country of their birth that they choose to completely ignore the 62%, the Holyrood Government, and the 48% of English Folk who want to Remain in Europe.

    We shall be left with no option but to stage a ‘Hard Exit’ of Marr’s and Smith’s corrupt little UK.

    Given this incredible exercise in ignoring Scotland and Scottish Politics for a whole hour, it would not surprise me if Marr’s English Overlords march troops North, close SNP premises, outlaw the Yes Movement, and throw WGD ,WOS, Bateman, Joyce, Grouse Beater, and Bella in the clink for subversion and treason.

    Well, it only took an hour of this British Fascist Propaganda from the State Broadcaster to establish that we are on our own, with the usual Bought and Paid For Anglos gleefully conspiring to destroy Scotland for their English Paymasters.

    I am 100% behind the Scottish Government being more supportive of the Catalan Independence Referendum; the right to choose is still a basic Human Right, well, until April 2019 in The Broken UK at least.
    We are in danger of being completely marginalised by the Fourth Estate.
    Caledonia like Catalonia has been airbrushed from the map, or so Marr, Smith and Co., would like us to think.

  15. I think Ms Hyslop’s statement is about right. The yoons would love to drag us into an international spat with Spain. The Spanish position as we know, was all about constitutions and not about independence in principle viz Scotland.

    They have a similar demographic issue to Scotland. I note in pictures on fb the numbers of young who are singing their anthem. The wiki states that rapid economic growth in the 50’s to 70’s sucked in workers from Spain. So I would expect a lot of their elderly population to be Spanish rather that Catalan first.

    I wish them success in their fight and hope the central government in Spain respects the UN charter. All peoples have a right to self determination – as Ms Hyslop correctly points out.

  16. Thank you, Paul. I had no idea that Franco’s pals, to this day, have control in Spain.

    The horrific treatment of the Catalan people mirrors the treatment of the Highlanders after the ’45 Uprising.

  17. Never thought I would appreciate the UK government, but accepting the Scots right to self determination in the Edinburgh Agreement was the right approach and shows up Spain as undemocratic.

    Albeit the unionists were utterly confident they would win – different story in Spain – and maybe we will see the old imperialist face yet.

  18. Take “independence” to its final conclusion and we will have “independence” for Catalonia, Orkney and Shetland,, the Kingdom of Fife, my street,- – – or whatever and whenever somone becomes disillusioned they did not get the result THEY wanted.We are in a Union because we are Better Together.

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